Big Four firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has named Rob Ward to head its global assurance practice - the company's largest line of service. Ward had previously served as deputy global assurance leader and will succeed Gerald Ward (no relation), who is retiring after more than 30 years of service.

Ward, 51, will oversee 5,000 partners and approximately 55,000 employees for the business line, which had revenues of $8.7 billion for the 2004 fiscal year. Before joining the Global Assurance Group, he had been the national managing partner of PwC Australia.

"Rob Ward will lead PwC's assurance business at a dynamic time for our firm and the profession," said Samuel A. DiPiazza, chief executive of PwC, in a statement. He added, "The breadth and depth of his experience with major clients make him uniquely qualified to lead during this period of growth and change."

A graduate of the University of New South Wales and a chartered accountant, Ward joined PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1974. He has been extensively involved in the development of global audit methodology and the application of computer technology. Additionally, he served as president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, national executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, and chairman of the Australian Accounting Research Foundation.

In January 2005, Ward was admitted as a Member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to the accounting profession and the community.

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